This weekend I went to Bankstown Bites Food Festival. When I signed up to go on a few food tours with my cousin, I thought I’d be ushered around stalls, given a few bits of finger food on a toothpick and then buy some lunch and go home.
We were early, and I was tired, so we went in search of coffee. What we found was an Arabic coffee stand where we could lounge about on soft couches, chat with the people running the stall and have multiple, free cups of Arabic coffee. I was already mentally smacking myself for being so cynical.
At 1015, we lined up for our tour—Red, ‘Explore Saigon Place.’ We walked a short distance from the festival to Great Century Yum Cha. We were treated to prawn dumplings, calamari, custard tarts and special biscuits. It was almost as good as sitting down for a full Yum Cha. Did I mention that we only paid $5 to go on this tour?
After Yum Cha, we visited Vien Dong Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. There, Jenny Lai spoke to us about her shop that has been in the same place since 1985. They treated us to some cleansing tea, gave us a cute little Chinese tea cup, and taught us all a little something about the benefits of looking after our spleens. We then went on to Dhuy Linh Grocery and had a guided tour of the store.
Our second tour was my favourite. This was the Green tour, which was all about fresh food and spices. At Valley View Continental Groceries and Spices, we were given a Lebanese tasting plate with a chicken skewer, corn, Lebanese bread, falafel, garlic paste and hummus. We loved the chicken and falafel so much that we practically ran inside the shop to buy the spice and felafel mix. The inside of the shop smells amazing—great bins of every spice you can imagine made me hungry, even though I was fast heading towards full.
We then moved on to Izvor Deli where we tried a Macedonian Sausage, sheep’s milk cheese and avjar (capsicum) dip. Our last stop was BC Homestyle Bakery where we were given bread, strudel, scones and muffins. This tour, was $5 as well.
Before we went on our last tour, my cousin and I went to explore the stalls at the actual festival. There was so much good food. This wasn’t carnival food (though there were chips on a stick), or the sort of tasting plates you get at other food festivals. These were local businesses showing off their wares. We had another Middle Eastern Coffee and then kids from the local Multicultural Youth Centre showed us, for $5, how to roll perfect rice paper rolls. I was really excited about this as I had never really had the knack of keeping the stuffing in the roll.
We split up for the last tour (the afternoon tours were nearly all full when we booked). I went to the European Delights tour. The Olympic Deli was closed but they sent us a lovely platter Bankstown Cellars. We enjoyed olives, cheese, salami, and dips with tastes of Amaretto, wine, vodka, aperitifs… it was very good. Our last stop was Four Star Burek. I was getting very, very full by this stage, but when they set the hot, flaky pastry filled with feta and spinach in front of me, I made room.
I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging about in the winter sun, enjoying a very full, contented tummy. This was the best food festival I have ever been too—it was more than just a chance to learn about new techniques and new foods, it was introducing me to businesses that I will go back to and it was showing off the great, multicultural aspects of Bankstown City. I hope other cities have it, because what a great opportunity for me to learn about different areas in Sydney.